The Future of Breast Cancer Care: Blackwood on Personalized Approaches

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In this episode of Targeted Talks, M. Michele Blackwood, MD, FACS, discusses the current landscape of breast cancer treatment and how personalized medicine with genomic testing is changing the field.

In this episode of Targeted Talks, M. Michele Blackwood, MD, FACS, director of breast surgery, Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ), Barnabas Health; director of women’s oncologic health, RWJ Barnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute; and head of breast surgery, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, discusses the current landscape of breast cancer treatment and how personalized medicine with genomic testing is changing the field.

Genomic profiling essentially analyzes a tumor's genetic makeup, revealing the specific mutations that drive its growth. This is a personalized approach that contrasts traditional “one-size-fits-all" therapies. Through a better understanding of the cancer's unique makeup, experts can better tailor treatment plans to maximize effectiveness and minimize adverse effects.

“Genomic profiling really took off about 20 years ago, especially for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. What we found is that many women may not need chemotherapy that we thought previously did need chemotherapy. It is not about just the size of the tumor and the stage of the tumor…but it is about how the tumor behaves,” explains Blackwood.

Blackwood highlights the significant advancements in genomic profiling that allows for comprehensive analysis of a tumor's DNA. Additionally, this process aids in identifying mutations in genes, which can influence both cancer risk and treatment options.

Despite some challenges that still need to be overcome, the outlook for personalized breast cancer care using genomic profiling is optimistic. The ability to tailor treatment plans based on the unique genetic makeup of a tumor allows for a more precise and potentially more effective approach for patients with breast cancer.

As research continues to unravel the complexities of cancer genomes, we can anticipate a future where personalized breast cancer care becomes the standard, leading to improved outcomes and a brighter outlook for patients.

“I do think this is the future of cancer care in general,” adds Blackwood.

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